Queen Mary 2's Canyon Ranch SpaClub: Pure Bliss on the Atlantic Ocean (with Video)
Perhaps the most decadent, and most relaxing experience one could ever imagine, is time spent at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub while crossing the Atlantic Ocean on Cunard's Queen Mary 2 ocean liner.
The Queen Mary 2 is equipped with a 22,000 square foot spa, which is one of the largest ship-based spas in the world. The spa facilities include 24 treatment rooms, a luxurious aqua-therapy facility and a beauty and hair salon. For those seeking exercise, there's a fully-equipped circuit gym with free weights as well as a large cardio facility that is outfitted with state-of-the-art elliptical trainers, stationary and recumbent bicycles, a variety of treadmills and stepping machines. Much of the equipment is equipped with individual televisions and iPod docks. Fitness trainers are available for individual sessions.
While the Canyon Ranch SpaClub isn't quite as elaborate as visiting the world-renowned Canyon Ranch destination locations in Tucson, Ariz. or Lenox, Mass. (and a Luxist Awards' Nominee for Best Extended-Stay Spa), it is extremely impressive nonetheless. And in some ways, the Canyon Ranch SpaClub aboard the Queen Mary 2, which opened in 2004, is even better. Where else can you enjoy the historic and romantic experience of crossing the Atlantic on a beautiful ocean liner while experiencing the healthy lifestyle offered by Canyon Ranch?
The Canyon Ranch SpaClub is staffed by a team of 31 Canyon Ranch employees, who are among the most highly skilled spa professionals in the world. All are trained to work on the various ships where Canyon Ranch operates a SpaClub, which, in addition to Cunard, includes a handful of other cruise companies such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises.
Canyon Ranch enthusiasts are guaranteed to experience the same level of standards and protocols on the ship that they would expect to find at the Canyon Ranch destination locations, according to Mandy Meth, the Spa Director (see video below).
The facilities are impressive and reminiscent of Canyon Ranch destination locations. The 24 therapy rooms are similar in size and scope to what you would expect to find at a Canyon Ranch and two of them are outfitted with elaborate aqua-therapy tubs (see gallery for images). Guests are given the same opportunity that the destination locations offer, to sit down with a member of the spa staff to learn about the spa's facilities as well as the Canyon Ranch philosophy of healthy living.
"A lot of guests comment that this is why they travel on the Queen Mary 2", explains Meth. "They can completely immerse themselves in a healthy lifestyle here. It is not just a massage or a body treatment they are getting. We give them the tools they need to take away the healthy choice that they made. They can take it away for life."
Although the ship's Canyon Ranch SpaClub is merely a taste of what one would experience at a destination Canyon Ranch, the offerings are plentiful and extraordinary. The executive chef from Canyon Ranch trained the ship's culinary team how to properly prepare Canyon Ranch cuisine. As a result, passengers can choose to eat nothing but Canyon Ranch cuisine at each of the dining rooms on the ship. Different Canyon Ranch spa recipes are offered daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, from its famous whole wheat pancakes to the buttermilk battered chicken breast with sweet corn sauce and the delicious banana changa dessert.
One area the Canyon Ranch SpaClub is short on is the number of classes offered daily. There are at least three different exercise classes daily, however, from basic mat pilates and aerobics to yoga and stretching. There is also at least one Canyon Ranch lecture offered daily on such topics as healthy eating and reflexology. While the number of classes offered are far fewer in number that one would expect to find at a Canyon Ranch destination location, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy. Another area that is underwhelming, though fully adequate, are the locker rooms. The lockers are on the small side---but what more should you expect in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? Canyon Ranch fans like myself will notice many small touches that make the spa very similar to visiting a full-fledged Canyon Ranch. Similar refreshments are offered, such as the fruit-infused water, lemonade and Tazo teas. And at the end of a treatment, guests are given a Canyon Ranch "Healthy Living" meditation card.
Surprisingly, some of the amenities offered by the ship's SpaClub are actually more elaborate than what is found at land-based spas. For example, the enormous 1.5 meter deep hydrotherapy pool is the largest one of its kind that I have ever seen. It is essentially an incredibly large and powerful whirlpool set at 34 degrees Celsius that is complete with built-in recliners and a waterfall (and is handicap accessible). There's also an adjacent, though smaller, whirlpool that is even hotter in temperature.
The spa's over-sized steam bath is infused with eucalyptus oil and provides an invigorating and refreshing experience. There are also two different saunas from which to choose. For traditional sauna lovers, there's a Finnish sauna, which is a large and cedar-lined. The second one is an herbal sauna and not quite as hot (around body temperature). It features a citrus aroma due to a tray of dried orange blossoms that rests over the hot coals. Every 15 minutes or so, a wooden bucket that is suspended over the blossoms releases a spray of water. The blossoms slowly bake, while emitting a delicious and soothing scent. The herbal sauna offers cocoon-like ceramic seating areas for up to eight people. I appreciated the fact that the herbal sauna wasn't too hot, which enables guests to stay in it for an extended period of time.
For cooling down, the spa offers sensory showers as well as individual reflexology foot baths. Like a mini whirlpool---but just for your feet---you choose either a cool or a warm water setting. If you want the cooler experience, there's an ice fountain that enables you to throw in a few handfuls of crushed ice.
The spa's treatment menu is plentiful and diverse. There is the full repertoire of massages one would expect at a full-service spa, from deep-tissue and aromatherapy to hot stone. But there are also treatments "from the east" including Thai massages, shiatsu, ashiatsu (deep barefoot massages), reflexology and reiki. There's an impressive variety of acupuncture treatments as well as Ayurveda and chiropractic treatments. Massages are offered in both 50 and 80 minute increments. Massages start at $138 and go up to $251, depending on the type of massage and length of time selected.
Numerous body treatments are also offered, ranging in length (50 to 100 minutes) and in price ($149 to $261). There are clay wraps and moisturizing cocoons as well as phytonutrient lymphatic masques and sea salt scrubs. There is a large selection of facials from which to choose (for both men and women) as well as a full service beauty and hair salon that offers manicures, pedicures, facial and body waxing services.
In honor of the transatlantic crossing, I experienced the Seaweed Leaf Ritual, an 80 minute treatment that is both hydrating and detoxifying. A traditional marine cure therapy, seaweed naturally absorbs nourishment from the sea. As a result, it contains numerous minerals and vitamins.
The treatment started with a full body exfoliation with dried seaweed, followed by a seaweed wrap and then a full body massage using seaweed oil and lotion. The highlight of the treatment is the seaweed wrap, of course, which involves your entire body being entirely wrapped with steamed organic seaweed leaves. Available for purchase, the seaweed is harvested in Ireland and packaged by Voya. When seaweed is steamed, it produces oils (containing proteins, minerals and vitamins) that are absorbed into the skin and is moisturizing, detoxifying and nourishing. Though I felt I smelled like a giant sushi roll, it was extraordinarily relaxing, as I was cocooned inside a giant rubber blanket filled with warm water. The full-body massage followed a quick rinse off. My friendly South African therapist informed me that the treatment also contains antioxidant compounds that fight cellulite while relieving stress and fatigue.
It never ceased to amaze me while I was enjoying the spa and its services, that I was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of miles away from the rest of humanity. I especially enjoyed the relaxation area which faces a long promenade along one length of the ship. With a one-way window, it is a great place to relax and watch fellow passengers strolling by. With the soothing music playing in the background and expansive views of the never-ending Atlantic Ocean, it was simply divine.
The spa is so luxurious and relaxing, that I kept forgetting it was a ship-based facility. If it weren't for the very subtle rocking I could occasionally feel, I would not have had any reminder at all.
The aqua center, saunas and steam baths, are all in a common space that are used by both men and women. Children under the age of 16 aren't permitted to use the facility. There's is an extra charge to use the Canyon Ranch SpaClub ($40 for a one-day pass, $75 for a three-day pass and $95 for a five-day pass), but is complimentary on the day of any health & wellness, massage, body or skincare treatment. There is no charge for use of the fitness center, including the weight and cardio rooms.
Cunard Line hosted me on board the Queen Mary 2 to learn more about the legendary Transatlantic Crossing experience, but the opinions expressed are my own.